Loneliness in the Modern Era
In 2018, more than 1.6 billion people around the world had an active social media profile with an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes spent on it daily. Modern loneliness isn't just about being physically removed from other people, but of feeling emotionally disconnected from others. Increased social connections have been connected with the increase in social isolation and depression. An increased online presence is also associated with less freedom for an individual to be who they really are due to outside pressure.
ONLINE CONNECTIONS LINKED WITH LONELINESS
- Social media platforms use the same techniques used in gambling, where it creates psychological dependencies and imbalances in brain chemicals that resemble depression and anxiety.
- When the internet is used to connect with people and maintain existing relationships, it can reduce loneliness. However, when it's used to replace offline interactions with others, it can increase feelings of loneliness. Lonely people are more vulnerable when using social technologies because they are more likely to focus on negative information, hence intensifying their feelings of loneliness.
- A study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine showed that the more time young adults spent on social media, the more likely they were to report symptoms of depression and have problems sleeping.
- Studies conducted by the University of Pennsylvania has found that Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat use is linked with decreased well-being. It has been concluded that this is due to the enormous amount of social comparison that takes place in such social media sites, particularly Instagram.
- Research shows that compared to those who spend less than 30 minutes a day using social media, those who spend more than 2 hours on it daily are twice as likely to report high levels of social isolation. In addition, compared to those who checked social media fewer than 9 times a week, the people who visited the sites 58 or more times a week were three times as likely to report high levels of social isolation.
- According to survey findings on 16-24 year-olds, 69% of respondents said they sometimes feel lonely when seeing others having fun without them.
- Millennials are largely congregating in makeshift communities, co-working spaces, dense urban communities, more likely to live with parents, and use technology to maintain close contacts. However, according to a census in the UK, loneliness greatly troubles millennials. 42% of millennial women are more afraid loneliness than a cancer diagnosis, which is the highest among all generations.
IMPACT OF ONLINE CONNECTIONS ON SENSE OF SELF AND FREEDOM
- According to the finding of Pew Research, most people would rather not express their personal views on a policy if it means going against other people and potentially alienating friends, family, and co-workers. This was found to be true both online and offline. However, with online interactions, the pressure to conform now comes from the masses rather than from guardians.
- A study on teens conducted by the UCLA Brain Mapping Center found that a high number of "likes" on social media is linked with increased activity in the rewards center of the brain. Teens are influenced to like photos, regardless of its content, and this feeds the herd mentality to like what others like to be accepted.
- Evidence suggests that the illusion of perfection that is portrayed online is damaging to teens and this leads them fake happiness in order to "fit in" online. This has frequently led teens to mask their sadness and insecurity rather than share it.
- The illusion of appearing to be perfect to outsiders is a phenomenon that is so prevalent that researchers at Stanford University coined the term "duck syndrome" that refers to how a duck appears to glide easily across the water while in reality, it is not as easy as it appears above the surface. This term originated following "the rash of suicides" in college-aged young students who had given off the appearance of being model students. Further evidence had revealed the perfectly crafted social media profiles of all of these students.
- The social media feed acts as a constant reminder to a person about what he or she "should" be, and the feeling of never being able to measure up to others, or their public image. The more they observe their "ideal self", the less forgivable their flaws seem to be in comparison, which fuels the cycle of overachieving and depression.